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Walking vs Bicycle Riding..What offers better health benefits?
Old 08-13-2012, 02:56 PM   #1
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Walking vs Bicycle Riding..What offers better health benefits?

Which is better healthwise? Walking or Bicycle riding?

For example, is it better to walk 3 miles or ride 3 miles?

I suspect the answer isn't totally black and white as I'd think walking exercises certain muscles that don't get worked on while on a cycle. Yet, cycling would offer more cardio.
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Old 08-13-2012, 03:09 PM   #2
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As always it depends on the type and intensity. Different muscle groups for sure and we do both walking and biking.

We love walking in the hills and it is very aerobic, but at home everywhere is flat so I replace walking outside with the elliptical trainer going at 4.5 to 5 miles per hour and increase the resistance setting to get my heart rate up. I can't get the same effect using an inclined treadmill which both hurts my lower back and aggravates my plantar fasciitis. (I don't know why climbing steep hills doesn't affect my back, but I wear serious hiking boots which do a good job protecting the soles of my feet).

Riding a bicycle, even on the flat, is easy to get the heart rate elevated.

I don't really think one is better than other for health benefits provided you produce similar aerobic output.
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Old 08-13-2012, 04:20 PM   #3
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I vote that walking is better...in answer to the specific question. Briskly walking 3 miles probably takes 35 - 50 minutes. Biking 3 miles - 10 to 15 minutes? Plus one can "cheat" and coast on a bike; coast on your feet and you don't move.
Cycling 30 minutes vs walking that amount of time, I'd vote that cycling yields the greater benefit.
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Old 08-13-2012, 05:31 PM   #4
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I vote that walking is better...in answer to the specific question. Briskly walking 3 miles probably takes 35 - 50 minutes. Biking 3 miles - 10 to 15 minutes? Plus one can "cheat" and coast on a bike; coast on your feet and you don't move.
Cycling 30 minutes vs walking that amount of time, I'd vote that cycling yields the greater benefit.
Good points. But for some "briskly walking" might seem like an oxymoron .
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Old 08-13-2012, 05:48 PM   #5
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It's brisk walking (not leisurely walking) which generates the most health benefits.
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Old 08-13-2012, 05:51 PM   #6
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I take my dog out on both walks and rides. (I have the springer contraption - which is a great way to take your dog on a bike.Springer - Biking your Dog Healthy)

I tend to go a much shorter distance when I walk. When I ride I go double to triple the distance.

It's definitely aerobic - I live at the bottom of a hill.

And the dog is much more tired after we we go riding.
The dog is part husky - so the desire to run is strong with him.
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Old 08-13-2012, 05:52 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by easysurfer View Post
Which is better healthwise? Walking or Bicycle riding?

For example, is it better to walk 3 miles or ride 3 miles?
I think that when walking or riding the same distance on a bike, the mechanical advantage of the bike would make it easier. You don't want it to be easier if you are to gain more from the exercise. So, walking would be a little better for you IMO.
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Old 08-13-2012, 05:53 PM   #8
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As noted, it is not the distance, but the time spent. To some extent, one can also point to the heart rate achieved during the exercise, but I think that is secondary. For example, walking 5 miles in 90 minutes is going to be the same work as running 5 miles in 45 minutes. Of course, the runner will have a higher average heart rate for this exercise that lasts only 45 minutes and not 90 minutes.
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Old 08-13-2012, 06:34 PM   #9
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For example, walking 5 miles in 90 minutes is going to be the same work as running 5 miles in 45 minutes.
Say again? If by work you mean calories burned, I don't think so.
Quote:
In "Energy Expenditure of Walking and Running," published last December in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, a group of Syracuse University researchers measured the actual calorie burn of 12 men and 12 women while running and walking 1,600 meters (roughly a mile) on a treadmill. Result: The men burned an average of 124 calories while running, and just 88 while walking; the women burned 105 and 74. (The men burned more than the women because they weighed more.)
How Many Calories Are You Really Burning? | From Runner's World

Seems odd to evaluate exercise choices using the same distance to begin with, instead of time and pace. Walking 3 miles is one thing, biking 3 miles is relatively easy. For a 160 lb person (all from Livestrong):

ActivitySpeedCal/miCal 3 mi
Biking12 mph48.4145
Running8 mph154462
Walking3.5 mph99.2298
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Old 08-13-2012, 06:55 PM   #10
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One good way to compare different types of workouts is to use a heart rate monitor during your workout. There is a close correlation between heart rate and calories burned. Many of the watch/chest strap type heart rate monitors calculate the calories burned for you. Granted it's not a 100% accurate way to measure calories burned but should be good enough for comparison purposes.
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Old 08-13-2012, 08:11 PM   #11
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I do both walking and riding. You have to take into consideration that on certain days the wind is in your face and the ground is not level so you are sometimes going uphill (and downhill which is a plus). Anyway I seem to get my heart rate up better bicycling than walking. I love them both and either one is good for you.
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Old 08-13-2012, 11:28 PM   #12
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+1 to what others have said about 3 mile walk vs bike ride not being apples to apples. Midpack also raises a good point. 3 miles walked does not equal 3 miles run in terms of energy output nor aerobic benefit.

As an example of aerobic benefit, when I walk with my sister, who is very out of shape, her heart-rate at a 16-17min/mile pace is nearly 140, while mine is about 75 or so. 75bpm is only 44% of my theoretical max, and is much less than the 60-85% recommendations you see for aerobic benefit. So for her, the walk is giving her the aerobic benefit she needs (at this level of fitness) but for me, it is beneficial in terms of burning a few extra calories, but is not providing the aerobic benefit I need (nor the endorphins that I crave).

So, it may be best to look at the entire topic from a different angle: Are you riding or walking the 3 miles fast/hard enough to get your HR up to an aerobically beneficial (for you) level, and are you sustaining that level for 20+ minutes? I think that for most people, to achieve this on the bike will be difficult, and for many people, achieving it by walking will also be difficult...it depends on where you are today with your fitness.

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Old 08-14-2012, 10:11 AM   #13
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The better exercise is the one you will consistently engage in. For me that is cycling. For many it would be walking.
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Old 08-14-2012, 10:15 AM   #14
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The better exercise is the one you will consistently engage in. For me that is cycling. For many it would be walking.
Yes.
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Old 08-14-2012, 10:22 AM   #15
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Apologies for not just including this in my earlier message. For comparison, one might ask which is better 20 minutes of biking or 20 minutes of walking, so I added the last column. Results are quite different for work for time spent (vs distance covered). Best of luck, and I agree whatever you enjoy enough to do habitually is probably the best, all are good forms of exercise.

ActivitySpeedCal/miCal 3 miCal 20 min
Biking12 mph48.4145194
Running8 mph154462411
Walking3.5 mph99.2298116
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Old 08-14-2012, 06:59 PM   #16
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For me recently - I do an hour walking 3,5 miles or biking 15 on my hybrid bike. I feel about the same after each exercise. Walking seems like it wears me out more than running over the same distance .
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Old 08-15-2012, 05:25 AM   #17
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Back when I was able to run I used to say that the only thing walking did was wear out your shoes.........since then I've been forced to modify my position.
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Old 08-15-2012, 05:42 AM   #18
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Back when I was able to run I used to say that the only thing walking did was wear out your shoes.........since then I've been forced to modify my position.
I liked running but it had rapid, disastrous effects on my joints so I had to quit. In retrospect, I am glad I quit. Running seems to have substantial negative long term effects on a lot of people who don't notice any problems in the short term. It seems to me that for most people choosing walking, biking, swimming or other low impact exercise regimes is a better bet than running. I guess I could see taking the risk if you enjoy and thus will consistently pursue running but can't get interested in low impact exercises.
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Old 08-15-2012, 06:19 AM   #19
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I liked running but it had rapid, disastrous effects on my joints so I had to quit. In retrospect, I am glad I quit. Running seems to have substantial negative long term effects on a lot of people who don't notice any problems in the short term. It seems to me that for most people choosing walking, biking, swimming or other low impact exercise regimes is a better bet than running. I guess I could see taking the risk if you enjoy and thus will consistently pursue running but can't get interested in low impact exercises.
I ran a marathon in 1984 wearing tensor bandages on both knees.....kept on plodding until I had a double arthroscopy in 1998 and the surgeon said "You're done running".

With osteoarthritis it was likely inevitable anyway, and if the running didn't exacerbate the condition I doubt that it helped.

Now it's the elliptical, some walking, and stair climbing, (which, oddly enough, the knees still permit me to do).......ah well, I always did believe in breaking things before they wear out.
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Old 08-19-2012, 08:02 AM   #20
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Obviously. As previously pointed out, it depends on duration and intensity. I find walking hurts my feet, knees and back while biking actually makes my back and knees feel better. When I want to burn calories biking sure does the trick. My garmin says I burn about 600-800 calories per hour and if go 3 hours that's a lot of calories. For a good erobic workout the stationary bike,spinning bike, or elliptical can get my heart rate up to 150 over the 45 minute workout, while burning an indicated 700-750 cals. I would guess my heart rate while biking doesn't get much above 120 except on steep hills.
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